Taurean Brown: The Revolution Will Be Organized: A revolutionary’s response to Ferguson


It’s been one month since those who protect and serve white supremacy murdered Mike Brown. Over this month, it feels like history has repeated itself yet again. The system has suppressed, the people have resisted, and still we see no justice for the murder of our young brother Mike Brown.

It’s like déjà vu. We saw it happen in Watts in 1965, Chicago in 1968, Miami in 1980, and in LA in 1992. The people of Ferguson were fed up with continuous terrorization, brutalization, and overall systemic oppression and rose up in righteous rebellion against the power structure. For every action, there is a reaction. What happened in Ferguson was a reaction, to the oppressive actions of police and state.

For weeks all eyes were fixed upon the town of Ferguson, MO. The media frenzy was high as the enemy scrambled to suppress the mass of uncompromising people demanding justice for Mike Brown. The oppressor used every trick in the book, from putting a Black man “in charge” to calling in so-called Black leaders to pacify the people. The enemy even turned the town of Ferguson into a literal warzone where people on the ground had to engage in a revolutionary struggle to preserve their humanity. Around the country people had their false-sense of comfort shaken again by what happened to Mike Brown and the vicious attack on the people of Ferguson. Rallies, vigils, and protests spread like wildfires through Amerikkka and around the globe. Social media timelines were filled with #DontShoot and #HandsUp pics. Celebrities, dignitaries, and even the President commented on Ferguson. However in spite of this humungous response from the people, we still haven’t even received an arrest for Darren Wilson. Now the hype has begun to die down, and many people are slowly going to back to sleep. Where did we go wrong?

Every time we have a sensationalized injustice, we get mad, we protest, we wait on justice, and eventually we go back to sleep. Why does this happen? It happens because we are mobilized but not organized. History can’t be repeated, but errors can be. We have continued to make the error of mobilizing around issues, and not organizing against the system. In order to be productive in a liberation struggle the difference between mobilization and organization must be understood. Mobilization is temporary, while organization is constant. Organization is proactive, calculated, and uncompromising. Mobilization is reactionary, compromising, and often non-specifically center around action.

It’s easy to mobilize people these days, especially during sensationalized events as the murder of Mike Brown. After a while, it even became trendy to respond to Ferguson. This is not to discredit anyone’s contribution, because trendy or not, it showed solidarity with Ferguson and raised awareness. However trendy consciousness and mobilization will not get us the liberation and power we so desperately seek. Power only comes from the organized masses. We have seen time and time again how unsuccessful mobilization alone is when it comes to improving our condition. Mobilization at its best leads to reform, and reform is not going to solve our problems. The only way oppressed people will achieve liberation in this land is through revolution. Revolution takes organization, without organization it’s just a mobilized unproductive reaction that is bound to fail.

Earlier in my activist career, I thought I could take the renegade approach to the struggle. Due to my disdain for the political drama that arises in organizations, I thought I would be able to fight for the people without being involved with a particular organization. I now understand that I was operating under an unconscious state of mind. In order to be truly productive towards the liberation of our people, one MUST be organized. True power comes from a people who are conscious, organized, armed, and uncompromising. Anyone who truly wants to get involved needs to join an organization that is working for the people with whom they share similar ideologies and strategies. If no such organization exists, then that person should take action and create one. Some people might think we have too many organizations currently, but I disagree. We could have three hundred different organizations working for the people, and if every oppressed person was an ACTIVE member of at least one of those orgs, we would see Amerikkka tremble and crack. As long as the orgs have an united front under the goal of freedom, nothing can stop their progress.

In order for liberation organizations to be productive and successful they must address the needs of the people. These organization must take a radical approach in addressing the conditions which exist. I say radical to mean that the organizations must focus on the root of the problems. Building a revolution will require people to be radicalized in order to increase our social/cultural, political, and economic power.

Our social/cultural power will be raised once we elevate our consciousness about our identity, history, and how the enemy operates. Many people are unconscious; they have no idea of who they are or where they come from. They only know what the oppressor has conditioned them to know. Due to their unconsciousness many fall into the traps of self-destruction created by enemy. Our people and especially our youth need revolutionary education. This education must challenge the status quo and teach our people to be critical thinkers.

Also many of our people are still unconscious to the issues of other marginalized groups within and outside of our community. This unconsciousness comes at a heavy price as many aid in the oppression of these marginalized groups such as women, LGBTQ, people w/disabilities, etc. Organizations must provide spaces and opportunities to wake people up to their own contributions to oppression. We can’t organize sleeping people who think and act like oppressors.

Our political power will be raised once we stop buying into the liberal versus conservative distraction that Amerikkka has created. Neither the liberal or conservative ideology cares anything about the collective condition of Black and Brown people. Post our so-called Emancipation; Black people have blindly given our votes away to political parties and individuals who ignore our issues. We need to create our own political party. Though we are only a small percentage of the population, we are often deciding factors in many elections. We need to use this fact to our advantage. But don’t be mistaken; voting will not solve our problems. Voting however can be a way to improve our condition until revolution comes.

Another part of raising our political power is by arming ourselves. For far too long we have allowed to oppressor to condition us to think that the only way we should respond is through nonviolence. The enemy does this because he knows that nonviolence alone will never dismantle the power structure of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Amerikkka is the most violent country in modern history. To think that it is going to just to give up its power without violence is illogical. We must understand that nonviolence is a worthy and necessary tactic, but it should not be a principle in which we have to subscribe to at all times. Pan-Afrikanist revolutionary Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael) once stated, “In order for nonviolence to work, your opponent must have a conscience. The United States has none.” Organized people struggling against a violent oppressor must be able to protect themselves should an attack come. We must not be afraid to  defend ourselves; it is essential in our struggle for freedom.

To build a revolution we need resources. In order to gain resources in this society we must increase our economic power. Though our struggle is against capitalism, we must build the wealth of our community in order to feed, house, clothe, and protect our community. Organizations must work to elevate the financial awareness of our people. Our people have to learn how to invest and save money. We have to teach more our people to creators. If we have to continue to go our oppressor for jobs, we will forever be enslaved to them. We should be able to employ our own people. We must pool resources and support each other as we strive to bring more resources to our people.

Revolution is our only solution. The systems that rule over the United States of Amerikkka are rotten to the core. It would be unwise to think the system that creates our oppression can somehow give us liberation. Audre Lorde told us that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. Freedom cannot be given; it must be taken. If we really want to take our freedom, then we must get organized. We cannot continue to focus on individual injustices and ignore the system which creates these injustices. The true justice for Mike Brown will come with the revolution, and the new society created from it. In the words of our dear brother Kwame Ture, we must ORGANIZE! ORGANIZE! ORGANIZE! Stay Woke.

(Source: taureanbrown.com)

Remember #BringBackOurGirls? This Is What Has Happened In The 5 Months Since


On the night of April 14, 2014, hundreds of schoolgirls at the Chibok boarding school in northeastern Nigeria awoke to the sound of gunfire. They saw men in camouflage approaching and thought soldiers were coming to save them from a militant attack, according to survivors’ accounts.

Instead, more than 270 of the schoolgirls found themselves in the clutches of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Their abduction sparked global outrage and a huge campaign calling for their rescue, partly propelled by the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.

Sunday marks five months since the girls were kidnapped. Here’s what has happened since.

Not one student has been rescued

In the first days after the abduction, 57 of the girls managed to escape from their captors. But not one has escaped or been rescued since then.

Even though they were reportedly located months ago

In May, a Nigerian military official claimed he knew where the girls were being held. A month later, U.S. surveillance planes also spotted a group that officials believed to be the girls.

Stephen Davis, an Australian cleric and mediator, said in June that a deal to free the girls had fallen apart three different times in one month. He says that powerful people with “vested interests” are working to sabotage a deal, and he has accused Nigerian politicians of funding Boko Haram. Nigeria’s government has defended its approach to the crisis and warned that a rescue effort might risk the girls’ lives.

Other countries have made little progress

According to the Associated Press, it took more than two weeks for Nigeria to accept offers of international assistance to find the schoolgirls.

When other countries did start to help, they didn’t get very far. The U.S. sent 80 troops in late May to coordinate an aerial search from neighboring Chad. Canada, France, Israel and the U.K. also sent special forces to Nigeria. But six weeks later, the Pentagon press secretary announced that the U.S. mission would be scaled back, saying: “We don’t have any better idea today than we did before about where these girls are.”

The troops are still in Chad and the U.S. has surveillance and reconnaissance flightslooking for the girls each week. U.S. officials have expressed concern about sharing intelligence on Boko Haram given the Nigerian military’s poor human rights record.

Meanwhile, the girls’ hometown is still in danger

Residents in Chibok face the unrelenting threat of an attack by militants. In June, aBoko Haram offensive on nearby villages crept within three miles of the town where the girls were kidnapped.

Tragically, at least 11 parents of the kidnapped girls have been killed by militants or died of illness.

And Boko Haram violence rages on

Since April, Boko Haram claims to have taken over at least five towns in northeastern Nigeria, although the military says it has won some of these back. The militant group has also kidnapped at least three more smaller groups of girls as well as dozens ofboys and young men — some of whom were later rescued.

More than 2,100 people are reported to have been killed by Boko Haram since April 14, according to data from the Council on Foreign Relations. And during a span of 10 days in August, some 10,000 people were displaced by fighting in northeastern Nigeria.

Nigeria’s military has buckled under pressure…

Nigeria’s military appears ill-equipped to deal with the challenge. Complaining of a lack of weapons, at least 40 Nigerian soldiers reportedly refused orders to fight Boko Haram in August. And during recent attacks by Boko Haram in border towns, at least 600 Nigerian soldiers reportedly fled to Cameroon. The army claimed that some of the troops were performing a tactical maneuver.

…And been accused of grave human rights abuses

Nigeria’s security forces and state-sponsored militias have long been accused of horrific abuses, including kidnappings, torture and extrajudicial killings. Following the government’s most recent crackdown on Boko Haram, evidence has emerged that authorities have tortured and killed countless civilians accused of being connected to the militant group.

While the country worries about its image problem

Nigeria’s government paid a Washington public relations firm more than $1.2 million to change the media narrative surrounding the schoolgirls’ abduction, according to a June report by The Hill. The country’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, recently faced severe backlash after a group campaigning for his reelection started using the hashtag #BringBackGoodluck2015, sparking outrage among groups still campaigning for the girls’ return.

'Django Unchained' Actress Daniele Watts Explains Why She Refused To Give LAPD Her ID (VIDEO)

As previously reported, last week two Studio City police officers in Los Angeles detained and allegedly mistook “Django Unchained” star Daniele Watts for a prostitute after they saw her — reportedly fully clothed — kissing boyfriend and celebrity chef Brian James Lucas in a car.

And following her detailed Facebook account of the situation stating that she was “handcuffed and detained” after refusing to show her ID, the couple appeared onCNN’s “New Day” this morning to provide additional details about their unpleasant experience with authorities.

When asked by “News Day” co-host Michaela Pereira if she had any regrets on refusing to show the officer her ID, Watts remained adamant in her decision and cited being a U.S. citizen and using her “constitutional rights.”

“It’s because I believe in America and what it stands for, and I believe in freedom,” she said. “And I think that a country that calls itself ‘The land of the free, and the home of the brave,’ if I’m within my amendment rights, my constitutional rights to say, ‘No, unless you’re charging me with a crime I will not be giving you my ID’ that is a right that I stand up for because of the shoulders that I stand on… because of the people who fought so hard for their rights that came before me. Black, white, all people have been fighting for these rights for freedom. It’s beyond race at this point.”

Lucas added his thoughts as to why he felt the encounter was a result of racial profiling.

“In the beginning [the officer] came up and said, ‘I had a call that there was a black and white couple,’ and he’s the one that actually brought that up,” Lucas explained. “And [Watts] even mentioned it. It became a little bit of a discussion at the beginning when she tried to get him to talk to her dad…he was definitely edging me on a bunch, as well.”

“When he pulled up, he asked me questions… that just made me feel like I was a client and she was a prostitute…” Lucas continued. “And then throughout the whole experience he kept on doing it.”

Check out more of Daniele Watts and Brian James Lucas CNN “New Day” segment in the clip above.

Leonce Gaiter: Black Gain Is White Pain — How the White Right Justifies Racial Injustice

Talking Points Memo, 8/27/14:

Conservative pundit Ben Stein appeared on Newsmax on Tuesday to discuss the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and challenged the use of the term “unarmed” to describe Brown.

Stein was discussing the shooting with host Steve Malzberg and said the use of the term “unarmed” to describe Brown, who was “apparently on marijuana,” was akin to “calling Sonny Liston unarmed or Cassius Clay unarmed.”

"He wasn’t unarmed," Stein said. "He was armed with his incredibly strong, scary self.

Stein mentioned both Michael Brown, the unarmed teen killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and Trayvon Martin, the unarmed white teen killed by George Zimmerman, who was not a police officer, but a member of a neighborhood watch.

What to say? Here we have almost every meme born of 400 years of American race hatred rolled into one neat, bespectacled package in the form of Ben Stein.

  • We have the savage black buck whose dark skin and steely gaze threaten whites by simply existing in an unchained state.
  • We have the insistence that blacks submit to white men without complaint, who then have the right to maim or kill them should they ‘mouth off’ or fail to ‘know their place.’
  • We have the return of black life as forfeit to any white man with the whim to take it and the gun with which to do it (open carry, anyone?)

All told, we have the idea of blackness as a weapon, and thus use of other weapons are justified in protecting whites against it. And blackness as a weapon is just the violent outgrowth of the “today’s racism is against whites” lie so currently popular with the political right wing.

In a paper entitled, “Whites See Racisms as a Zero-Sum Game That They are now Losing,” Michael I. Norton of the Harvard Business School and Samuel R. Sommers of Tufts University conducted research on a “general mindset gaining traction among Whites in contemporary America: the notion that Whites have replaced Blacks as the primary victims of discrimination.”

The researchers wanted to test previous research suggesting that “White Americans perceive increases in racial equality as threatening their dominant position in American society (Sidanius & Pratto, 1999), with Whites likely to perceive that actions taken to improve the welfare of minority groups must come at their expense. (Eibach & Keegan, 2006).”

The results were enlightening:

As in previous investigations, our results revealed that Whites see racism in zero-sum terms. For White respondents, ratings of bias against Whites and Blacks were negatively and significantly correlated for each decade, suggesting that, within each decade, Whites linked lower levels of anti-Black bias with higher levels of anti-White bias.

Those like Stein see any progress that blacks make as a direct attack on their status — their being. To them, any lessening of white supremacy is a threat; it’s akin to bias against whites. To such modern racists, the historical status as the American master race is so prized that they perceive black progress as an attack against them. Is it any wonder that a black president has driven them over the bend?

"It’s a very sad state of affairs," Stein said. "I mean it used to be, there was a time … when lynchings of African Americans were not that incredibly rare. Now the lynchings are the police and it’s just an outrage."

Yes, according to Stein, being whisked off to a secret location with hundreds of thousands of dollars at your disposal from likeminded well-wishers — as is the case with the officer who killed Michael Brown — is akin to this:


To the modern racist, black gain is, by definition, white pain. The concept applies equally to Rush Limbaugh, Ben Stein, and the flippant, right wing sophistry of comments like John Roberts’ “the way to stop discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” when overturning a school integration plan.

The court’s conservatives ruled that you can’t use race to achieve integration, which is basically saying that you can’t work to achieve integration because, well, it’s all about race. “When it comes to using race to assign children to schools, history will be heard,” he said. And history is heard and obeyed — the history that has kept black and brown students in sub-standard, sub-funded schools through of redlining, and employment and housing discrimination. This is clearly the history conservatives honor, the history to which they cling.

Ignoring the toxicity of history and equating the systemic racist effects of the American criminal justice and education systems with a common desegregation scheme is to imply, like Stein, that minority gains of equal status are an intolerable burden on those whose status they seek to match. Even Justice Anthony Kennedy had to write a separate opinion to distance himself from the conservative Justices’ insistence that the “State and local authorities must accept the status quo of racial isolation in schools.”

To the modern right, black gain is white pain. The more respectable among them have learned that if you pretend to believe that racism does not exist, despite the undeniable evidence, you can perpetuate white supremacist outcomes indefinitely; and better still, you can sound high-minded in your own ears while doing so.

Black robe or white, the result is the same.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

Racism is not over, but these kids from Ferguson, Missouri, are way over it.

In a new video from social justice-oriented T-shirt company FCKH8, several Ferguson children lampoon the excuses white people give to avoid getting involved in ending discrimination in America and deliver a call to action to stomp out racism.

According to FCKH8, the kids in the video come from homes on the same Ferguson street where a police officer shot to death unarmed teen Michael Brown on Aug. 9,sparking several weeks of unrest in Ferguson.

"Just because Beyoncé is on your playlist and you voted for Obama doesn’t mean that our generation has seen the end of racist drama," the kids, who range in age from 6 to 13, say. They add later, "We just want an equal shot at life, not to be shot to death."

Check out the video, above.

13 More ‘Michael Brown’ Police Killings We’ve Learned About In The Month Since His Death

It has been exactly one month since Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The unarmed black teen’s death drew national attention to a number of issues about policing and equal treatment under the law that have long been of concern to the African-American community. How did a fatal confrontation sprout, when initial reports suggest that Brown was simply walking in the street? Why did Officer Darren Wilson fire six shots into Brown’s body, including two to the head? Were Brown’s hands in the air at the time the fatal shot was fired? Was such lethal force really necessary, even if investigators end up concluding Wilson’s actions were justified? And if Wilson’s actions were criminal, will Brown’s family actually find justice?

While much has been said about the role race played in the Brown case and in similar incidents of unarmed black men being controversially and forcefully targeted by police around the country, the events that unfolded in Ferguson on Aug. 9 and in the response to subsequent protests undoubtedly speak more broadly to a disturbing pattern of behavior by law enforcement. Around the nation, people of every race, age, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation are being treated questionably and aggressively by police officers, in a manner that often leads to suspects being killed or injured, seemingly without proper cause. To make matters more concerning, we have no idea just how many people police kill each year, whether justified or not.

The assorted cases below — all of which have either taken place or come to light in the past month — all touch upon many of the core issues at play in the Brown case. Not all of the victims were black males, and the regional context is unique in each case, but they all raise the same questions: How frequently are police too quick or undiscerning in their use of excessive, often lethal force? And are these cases adequately investigated and prosecuted by the other law enforcement officials tasked with making these determinations?

Here’s what some of the most controversial police violence looked like in the past month alone:

Aug. 10

On the evening of Aug. 10, an off-duty Dallas police officer confronted Andrew Scott Gaynier, an unarmed 26-year-old who was reportedly pacing up and down the street and making lewd comments to a number of women. Police say Gaynier didn’t complywhen an officer ordered him to show his hands shortly after attempting to enter a passing family’s vehicle. A video shows that Gaynier then charged toward the officer, leading him to open fire on the suspect. Unnamed witnesses claim Gaynier shouted “shoot me” and screamed before rushing toward the officer. A witness also claimed the officer fired four shots, including three to the chest.

An investigation into the incident has been launched and the video of the shooting was turned over to a special investigative unit.

Aug. 11, case 1

Veteran officers with the Los Angeles Police Department stopped Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old mentally ill man, about a block from the street he grew up on in the South Los Angeles’ Florence neighborhood on the evening of Aug. 11. Little is known about why the officers stopped Ford, but police say during that stop a scuffle ensued with Ford during which Ford reached for the officer’s gun. The partner officer then opened fire upon Ford. The police say Ford was rushed to a nearby hospital, and later succumbed to his wounds. However, eyewitnesses tell a much different story. They say that Ford was unarmed and was being compliant with the officers, lying on the ground when three bullets were unloaded into him by the police. Members of Ford’s community and family say that it was well known, even by police officers, that Ford was mentally ill.

Attorney Steven Lerman, who also represented Rodney King — the man whose videotaped beating by LAPD officers following a high-speed car chase in 1991 sparked outrage around the nation — took on the Ford case and has said that he intends to file a federal civil rights lawsuit over the shooting, which he described as an “execution.”

The LAPD recently released the names of the officers involved in the shooting, but has maintained an “investigative hold” on the Ford autopsy report. The LAPD’s Force Investigative Division and Robbery Homicide Division investigations into the shooting are ongoing.

ezell ford

Protestors gather in front of Police Headquarters in Los Angeles on Aug. 17 to demonstrate against the fatal police shooting of Ezell Ford.

Aug. 11, case 2

Salt Lake City police officers were responding to reports of a man brandishing a handgun when they confronted 20-year-old Dillon Taylor outside a 7-Eleven store. Taylor was unarmed at the time, witnesses say, but some reports suggest that he may have reached toward his waistband before being shot by a police officer. Taylor’s brother, who was with the 20-year-old when he was killed, said Taylor was wearing headphones at the time, so may not have heard the officers’ command for him to put his hands in the air and get on the ground. Taylor died at the scene.

The South Salt Lake Police Department is investigating the incident, but has so far not released a ruling as to whether the officer was justified in firing the fatal shots. The officers at the scene were wearing body cameras during the confrontation, and investigators say the footage will be released when when the investigation concludes.

Aug. 12

On Aug. 12 in Victorville, California, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputiesattempted to take Dante Parker, a 36-year-old father of five, into custody. Parker, who was biking at the time of the confrontation, was a suspect in a burglary, police said. When officers confronted him, they say he became “uncooperative and combative,” and acted as if he was under the influence of an unknown substance. Officers deployed Tasers on him repeatedly, according to police officials, and Parker was later transported to a local hospital where he died. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department is conducting an investigation into Parker’s death, but the results have not yet been released.

Aug. 14, case 1

On Aug. 14, the family of Omar Abrego, a 37-year-old father from Los Angeles, came forward to KTLA, claiming that Abrego had been beaten to death by police following a confrontation. The LAPD claims police attempted to pull over Abrego because he was driving erratically and almost hit a pedestrian. Officers say he attempted to flee, first in his vehicle, then on foot, before eventually being caught. In the altercation that ensued, police officials say Abrego suffered a laceration. Witnesses claim to have seen officers striking him on his head and face, however, with one saying the beating lasted 10 minutes. A cell phone video appears to show a motionless Abrego with a bloodied face, lying on the ground. An ambulance was called to the scene, and 12 hours later, Abrego was dead.

The LAPD says the two sergeants involved in the incident were injured as a result of the arrest and that the department has mounted an investigation into the incident.

Aug. 14, case 2

Police in Greeley, Colorado say they were responding to a 911 call reporting an intoxicated man armed with “two or three guns” on the morning of Aug. 14 when they encountered 21-year-old Jacinto Zavala. The military veteran reportedly had a brief encounter with police, officials say, during which he refused their commands to drop a weapon and instead pointed it at officers, leading them to shoot and kill Zavala. While police maintain that Zavala was brandishing an AR-15, his family has claimedhe was armed only with a BB gun, and that he never raised it at the officers. The source of the 911 call, who claimed the suspect had PTSD, is also unclear. Zavala’s family alleges that he didn’t suffer from the disorder, but that officers should have behaved differently if they believed they were responding to a mentally unstable individual.

The Weld County District Attorney’s Office is currently investigating the case, though details about incident have not yet been released.

Aug. 14, case 3

On the morning that Diana Showman, a 19-year-old woman with severe bipolar disorder, was shot to death by police officers in San Jose, California, she called 911 reportedly telling dispatchers that she had a gun and was going to shoot her family. However, no one else was at home with Showman. When Showman later approached officers outside of her home with a large black object in her hand, the officers ordered her to drop it, but when she disobeyed the order, police say, an officer fired one fatal round. It was later discovered that the large object was a black cordless drill.

Showman’s parents, as well as local police, are demanding a thorough investigation of the shooting.

power drill

The drill Showman was carrying at the time of her death.

Aug. 14, case 4

On the same afternoon, a veteran officer from the Phoenix Police Department arrived at 50-year-old Michelle Cusseaux’s apartment in order to transport her to an in-patient mental-health facility. Police say Cusseaux — who was said to have serious mental illness which included schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression — met the officer at her front door with a hammer in her hand when she was shot dead.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety will conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting after Cusseaux’s mother asked that the city use an independent agency to look into the incident.

Aug. 17

On Aug. 17, Joshua Paul, a 31-year-old from Carpentersville, Illinois, was pulled over by police for a traffic violation. What happened next still isn’t clear, but the officers informed Paul that he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest due to prior traffic violations, and attempted to take him into custody. Police reported a “brief physical struggle,” which left Paul with a laceration under his chin that required on-scene medical attention from paramedics. The extent of his injuries was reportedly more substantially, because he was eventually taken to the hospital in an ambulance, where he died a few hours later. The cause of Paul’s death and extent of his injuries have still not been released by officials, and the Illinois State Police Public Integrity Unit has launched an investigation into the incident.

Aug. 19

On Aug. 19 in Orlando, several people called 911 to report a man with a gun outside of a downtown nightclub, but that he hadn’t fired it yet. According to a police affidavit, police ordered Kody Roach, the gunman, to get on the ground, but when he started to back up toward the club again, witnesses say that policed fired as many as a half-dozen shots. Police say that during a police confrontation with the gunman, 22-year-old Maria Godinez was killed by a stray bullet fired by an officer. Roach survived the shooting and now faces a murder charge for the killing of Godinez.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has launched an investigation into the shooting.

girl killed

A photo of Godinez, via WKMG.

Aug. 24

Police in Ottawa, Kansas, say they responded to calls about unusual behavior from 18-year-old Joseph Jennings and reports that he may have had a gun. Officers said that when they arrived in the parking lot of a local hardware store on the afternoon of Aug. 24, Jennings ignored police commands. That’s when police fired upon Jennings. Butwitnesses say Jennings may not have had a gun at all, and that police may have fired more than 15 rounds at the teen who had left a psychiatric hospital just hours before. Family members also said that police were aware of Jennings’ mental state and had made several recent trips to his home because the young man had been having suicidal thoughts brought on by what his family described as painful seizures.

The case has been taken over by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

Aug. 28

Police say they received 911 calls on the morning of Aug. 28 describing a man walking down a street wielding a pipe and bashing in windows. A witness described the man as homeless, and he was later identified as 36-year-old Guillermo Canas. St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said that the man was attacking officers with rocks and had also apparently attacked a school bus with a metal pipe. Witnesses say that when police arrived, the man was throwing rocks and trying to punch police officers just before he finally charged at one of the officers and was fatally shot.

Sept. 3

Earlier this month, the family of Marlon Horton filed a civil rights lawsuit over the fatal shooting of the 28-year-old man by an undercover Chicago police officer the year before. Horton was reportedly attempting to visit his girlfriend on the morning of Sept. 7, 2013, but a lawsuit claims that his cell phone battery had died, leaving him unable to call his girlfriend to get into her building. Horton then asked two building security guards, one who turned out to be an off-duty Chicago police officer, to let him into the building. When the pair of guards refused to let him in and asked him to leave, Horton allegedly began to urinate near the police officer’s car and a scuffle began. It ended with Horton being shot as he moved toward the off-duty police officer.

Transcripts from 911 calls allegedly reveal a dispatcher instructing the off-duty officer to give Horton medical assistance after Horton had been shot, but security video from the scene of the shooting shows no assistance was given, according to a lawsuit launched by the family.

The family’s attorneys say that had Horton been white, he would not have been shot and killed. The Chicago Independent Police Review Authority is investigating the incident.


Not every target of police violence that emerged in the past month met such a tragic end. In late August, Chris Lollie, a 28-year-old father of four from St. Paul, Minnesotareleased video of a January encounter that led to him getting hit with a Taser twice by police before being arrested.

Lollie claims he was sitting in a public skyway-level lounge area when a security guard told him to leave. Believing he was in a public space, Lollie declined, and the guard called police to the scene. When officers arrived, Lollie had left the area to go pick his children up from daycare. They approached him in another section of the skyway and asked him to identify himself; Lollie was filming the confrontation on his cell phone. When he refused to identify himself, officers attempted to take him into custody. Lollie claims an officer placed his phone on a ledge, and audio of the incident shows there was a brief struggle before an officer deployed a Taser on him, allegedly in front of his daughter’s day care classmates.

The charges — for misdemeanor trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing the legal process — were eventually dropped in July, but Lollie is now filing a federal lawsuit, claiming he was a victim of unlawful search and seizure, motivated by racial bias. Lollie luckily wasn’t killed or seriously injured in the incident, but as some of the previous stories demonstrate, many similar incidents have had more tragic ends.

Lollie’s situation also garnered national attention due to a video, but there is no doubt there are many similarly questionable confrontations we don’t hear about. In many of these cases, unnecessary or at least potentially controversial use of force goes unnoticed by the public and unquestioned by police officials. It’s only when someone actually dies — an outcome that officers often have little control over if a Taser or other “non-lethal” weapon is used — that the story emerges and the nation again is forced to see the parallels to the case of Michael Brown.

We Still Don’t Know What Happened To Ramarley Graham

NEW YORK — Ramarley Graham is a name the country should know, but doesn’t. For New Yorkers, Graham’s case is reminiscent of Michael Brown’s in Ferguson, Missouri. Both were unarmed black men fatally shot by white police officers. As in Mike Brown’s case, we are still waiting for a full police incident report and a thorough accounting of what happened. But while Brown was killed less than a month ago, Graham’s family has been waiting over two and a half years for answers.

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Franclot Graham speaks to his son, Ramarley Graham, in his casket before funeral services, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

These are the facts as we know them.

On February 2, 2012, the NYPD says a narcotics unit in the Bronx spotted 18-year-old Graham adjusting his waistband outside a bodega — a sign, according to the department, that Graham was carrying a gun. When officers approached him, the NYPD says, Graham took off running toward his house just a few blocks away.

Surveillance footage, however, shows Graham calmly walking up to his mother’s home on East 229th Street, unlocking the door and walking inside. Seconds later, the surveillance footage shows two cops sprinting up to the house, guns drawn, and attempting to knock down the door.

For four to five minutes, the footage shows, the officers were unable to get inside. Meanwhile, in the back of the house, several officers were also trying to gain entry. When a young boy who lived in the first-floor apartment opened the back door, the officers, who also had their guns drawn, ran past the boy and his father to the front of the house, where they let their fellow officers inside.

One of the officers then proceeded to run upstairs and break down the door to Graham’s apartment. When officer Richard Haste went inside, the NYPD says Haste confronted Graham inside the bathroom where the teen was allegedly trying to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet. The NYPD says Graham reached for his waistbandduring the confrontation, prompting Haste to shoot him once in the chest.

No gun was found on Ramarley, in the bathroom, or anywhere else in the house. Graham’s 6-year-old brother, Chinoor Campbell, and his grandmother, Patricia Hartley, witnessed the shooting. Graham was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

But there are so many things we still don’t know.

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Chinoor Campbell holds a sign for his brother, Ramarley Graham, at a vigil on March 22, 2012. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

We still don’t know which officer first claimed that Graham had a gun. We don’t know if that officer actually saw a gun, or just saw Graham adjusting his waistband. We don’t know why, in the bathroom, Graham would reach for a gun he didn’t have. We don’t know why officers didn’t call for backup, as is protocol when chasing down an armed suspect.

We don’t know why officers did not get a warrant before breaking into Graham’s house, nor why the NYPD claimed that Ramarley ran when surveillance footage shows him walking.

We don’t know why — as detailed in a lawsuit filed earlier this year — cops detained Graham’s grandmother, Patricia Hartley, for seven hours at the local precinct, questioning her about what she saw, even though she wasn’t facing any charges, and even though she’d just witnessed her grandson’s violent death. And we don’t know why officers wouldn’t let Graham’s family’s lawyer, Jeffrey Emdin, inside to see Hartley for nearly two hours.

We don’t know why Graham’s body was misidentified after his death, making it impossible for his parents to see his body for four days.

And we don’t know which police officer released Graham’s juvenile criminal record — which, by law, should remain sealed — to the press.

"There are questions they have to answer," Graham’s father, Franclot Graham, told HuffPost recently. "They have been able to hide so far, but the day’s coming when they’ll have to speak."

What is known about the events of that afternoon can only be gleaned piecemeal from past NYPD statements, lawsuits, media reports, interviews with the family and a private meeting Ramarley’s parents had with then-Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Today, more than two and a half years after Graham was killed, neither his family nor the public has even seen an official police incident report, let alone heard the officers involved testify or be deposed.

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A woman cries during a vigil for Ramarley Graham on March 22, 2012. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Franclot Graham and Ramarley’s mother, Constance Malcolm, have only been able to speculate about what happened to their son.

"We haven’t seen their report, we haven’t even seen the medical examiner’s report," Franclot said, "but if Ramarley was in the bathroom flushing weed like they say and he’s bending over, how come Richard Haste shot him in the heart? Richard Haste would’ve had to have been in the bathtub to shoot him, because he’s looking away from the door. [There are] a lot of inconsistencies in what the NYPD says. We need Haste on the stand."

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Franclot Graham and Constance Malcolm. (Photo by Seth Wenig/AP)

It’s this kind of speculation, said Dr. Katherine Shear, a professor of psychiatry at the Columbia School of Social Work, that can stand in the way of people properly grieving for their loved ones.

"Since circumstances of the death are murky, they can tell themselves that it didn’t have to happen. They can say, ‘If only…,’" Shear said. And under those circumstances, she added, it’s "very likely that grief won’t be processed," which can lead to what’s called "complicated grief" — an intense and prolonged period of suffering.

For Michael Brown’s family in Ferguson, Ramarley’s case could prove a discouraging precedent. It’ll take an indictment from a grand jury in Ferguson for the official police report to be made public in court. If that fails, as in Ramarley’s case, it could take years for the public to hear what really happened.

Since 2012, Ramarley’s case has been mired in multiple investigations at both the state and federal levels, keeping the NYPD’s version of events away from public scrutiny.

"There was a grand jury investigation in the Bronx, and because of that pending criminal case, we weren’t able to get the [NYPD] documents," Emdin told HuffPost.

In 2012, a grand jury voted to indict Haste, but the indictment was tossed out because of a prosecutorial mistake. A second grand jury declined to indict Haste. Grand jury proceedings are sealed, and it’s not known what evidence Bronx district attorney Robert Johnson presented to the jury.

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Fellow NYPD officers clap for Richard Haste after he pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges in the death of Ramarley Graham. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

"After the grand jury did not indict on the second time, the Justice Department said that they were going to be looking into this matter," Emdin said. "There’s an NYPD Internal Affairs investigation going on as well, and so those files haven’t been released to us yet."

The NYPD did not respond to a Huffington Post request for comment on the status of its Internal Affairs investigation. The Justice Department declined to comment on the status of its own investigation.

If the Justice Department chooses to convene a grand jury, and that jury indicts Haste on civil rights charges, the case will go to trial. That would mean the NYPD’s files on Graham’s death would finally be made public, and his family might at last get some answers.

If the Justice Department doesn’t pursue or win an indictment against Haste, however, Emdin says Graham’s family will have to ask a judge to force the NYPD to turn over its files as part of a pending civil lawsuit they’ve brought against the department.

But for now, Emdin added, “it’s in the DOJ’s hands,” and Graham’s family is still waiting to hear why he was killed. Malcolm, Graham’s mother, said she still has hope that there will be an accounting.

"There’s a man that sits high and looks low, and we’ll get justice one day," she said. "We believe in God. It might happen. It’s gonna happen slow, but it’s sure."